Summary of X10's functions and flaws

Started Mar 10, 2012 | Discussions
Timur Born
Timur Born Veteran Member • Posts: 4,972
Summary of X10's functions and flaws
1

Here is a summary of my past findings on the X10. My current conclusion is that unfortunately there is no single best setting for all day shooting. It all depends on what you want, what you shoot and which of the following issues are relevant to your shooting style.

  • L usually provides higher detail than M at all ISOs, but at ISO higher than 400 image in M size provide 1 step worth of noise-reduction better luminance noise and overall less chroma blotching and white-noise shift.

  • EXR DR (where half the sensor is exposed shorter and later ) is only used at ISO lower than DR (ISO 100 + DR 200, ISO 100-320 + DR 400). Maximum exposure time is limited to 1/4 second in M-anual mode then. In A-perture mode this leads to a bug with EXR DR when exposure time is chosen longer than 1/4 second by the camera, switch to ISO 400+ or turn off DR if you need that much exposure. EXR DR does not replace clipping whites of the longer exposed half with information of the shorter exposed half, but only attenuates the clipping white to gray and then blends both halves (seen as a grey halo with a thin outline in between around specular highlights).

  • HR DR (High Resolution) is used with ISO equal or higher than DR (i.e. ISO 400 + DR 400) and does not use the EXR capabilities of the sensor for DR. It can be used for both L and M images, but when combined with M then the X10 will use EXR SN pixel-binning in combination with DR. HR DR works by underexposing at lower ISO (amplification) and then pulling up shadows and mids via curves (at higher bit-rate RAW level before creating the JPG). It's the same as doing it manually via post-processing, but saves the extra work.

  • Regardless of DR setting maximum exposure time in all other modes than M and A is limited to 1/4 second, this can lead to underexposure if you reach the limits of aperture and ISO. The camera will show the red underexposure letters, but still refuse to use longer exposure time.

  • DR 400 provides higher dynamic range at all ISOs, but at the costs of less saturation in the deepest shadows and dark outlines around specular highlights (not just orbs). DR 200 can be a good compromise, but you have to choose the right setting for the right situation. EXR DR may increase the total dynamic range of the camera at ISO 100-200. HR DR does not increase the total dynamic-range of the camera, but it provides higher dynamic-range per ISO setting (dr normally decreases with higher ISO, so HR DR provides higher dr per ISO by internally using lower ISO before applying curves).

  • AUTO DR leads to overexposure (on my unit) even when all settings are the same as when you had set them manually. You cannot compensate this via -EV, because the overexposure only happens when AUTO DR chooses DR 200/400, not when it chooses DR 100 (only visible once you took the shot).

  • AUTO ISO can also lead to a very slight change of exposure (but minimal), can be both more or less exposure. In combination with AUTO DR this can lead to even more overexposure, though.

  • AUTO ISO (1600 and 3200) do not use their highest possible setting when the flash is used, even when this leads to underexposure. So AUTO ISO (1600) will max out at ISO 800, and AUTO ISO (3200) will max out at 1600.

  • "+MOTION" IS only works in combination with AUTO ISO. It will increase ISO when it detect motion or camera-shake, but will allow lower ISO compared to not using "+MOTION" IS when the frame is steady (aka the X10 chooses higher ISO than necessary when "+MOTION" IS is turned off).

  • AF-C may focus at a point slightly off center even when the cross-hair on aim and playback suggest the focus to be on the perfect center spot. This means that you may see a different focal plane on the image than what you aimed at even when the X10 confirmed to be in focus via green cross-hair. AF-S would rather report a failed AF in such a situation.

  • "Spot" metering always meters on the center and not on the AF spot. The manual describes this properly, but it's still confusingly named.

  • "Face Detection" automatically switches metering to "Multi", but in reality it meters and exposed on the detected face! Unfortunately the "superintelligent" flash does not measure on the face, which can lead to overflashed faces in some situation (especially if the face moved out of the center).

  • "Tracking" AF does not switch metering and the metering does not follow the tracked object (aka not like Face Detection).

  • Aiming at a frame with bright highlights inside the metering area (depending on current metering setting) leads to the aperture closing down during aiming to provide a better preview on screen. Once you (half)press the shutter the aperture performs an "open-close-open" sequence that takes some time and is not related to auto-focus. The wider your chosen aperture to be for the shot the longer this sequence takes. Using AUTO ISO also has some very slight impact on the lengths of the sequence.

  • Shooting "RAW + JPG" in M size at ISO at least double as high as DR leads to RAW file size being cut in half the size (does not happen with "RAW" only), from 18 mb to 10 mb. More important, this leads to SN pixel-binning happening inside the camera before RAW creation ! The difference between pixel-binning inside the camera vs. inside the raw software is that the automatically applied curves to shadows and mids differ and thus the ranges/behavior to changes in the raw software is different (same value have vastly different outcome).

  • RAW Converter EX/Silkypix seems to mostly throw away the information of the longer exposed sensor half of EXR DR raws (not just clipped highlights, but everything)! What you will get is the same as if you had exposed the whole image later and shorter. If any motion was present during exposure then some of the motion related regions may show wrong/missing colors and kind of dithering artifacts. This seems to be different with different images.

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patchotoole Regular Member • Posts: 485
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

Timur Born wrote:

  • EXR DR (where half the sensor is exposed shorter and later ) is only used at ISO lower than DR (ISO 100 + DR 200, ISO 100-320 + DR 400). Maximum exposure time is limited to 1/4 second in M-anual mode then. In A-perture mode this leads to a bug with EXR DR when exposure time is chosen longer than 1/4 second by the camera, switch to ISO 400+ or turn off DR if you need that much exposure. EXR DR does not replace clipping whites of the longer exposed half with information of the shorter exposed half, but only attenuates the clipping white to gray and then blends both halves (seen as a grey halo with a thin outline in between around specular highlights).

Is that correct? I thought that hardware DR is essentially unconnected with the ISO. In L mode it is software DR expansion. Sounds like a bug to me or do I misunderstand what you are saying?

Timur Born
OP Timur Born Veteran Member • Posts: 4,972
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

This is no bug, there just isn't much use for EXR DR with higher ISOs, especially considering the disadvantages of EXR DR vs. HR DR. So the X10 always uses HR DR when ISO allows it to do so.

HR DR 200 = internally 1 stop lower ISO underexposure + lifting of shadows + mids + further attenuation of highlights

HR DR 400 = internally 2 stops lower ISO underexposure + lifting of shadows + mid + further attenuation of highlights

Have a look at DxO's measurement of dynamic-range of the X10 sensor. The higher the ISO the lower the dynamic-range. Underexposing at lower ISO (amplification) + making use of the higher bit-rate (=dynamic range) of raw data makes sense, even if it doesn't have anything to do with the EXR sensor (unless it's combined with EXR SN in M mode).

There is no such thing as "hardware" vs "software" DR. Both make use of hardware underexposure and both apply curves. They just work differently: EXR DR exposes half the sensor shorter (and later) while HR DR exposes the whole sensor at lower amplification (ISO), then both apply curves to the raw data (or let the raw software apply them).

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Wellington100 Forum Pro • Posts: 11,795
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

Timur Born wrote:

  • RAW Converter EX/Silkypix seems to mostly throw away the information of the longer exposed sensor half of EXR DR raws (not just clipped highlights, but everything)! What you will get is the same as if you had exposed the whole image later and shorter. If any motion was present during exposure then some of the motion related regions may show wrong/missing colors and kind of dithering artifacts. This seems to be different with different images.

Does that mean that if you shoot in RAW you don't get the benefit of the extended DR available in DR mode?

All in all thats an amazing amount of detail Timur. It's quite astonishing what you have been able to glean from the camera.

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patchotoole Regular Member • Posts: 485
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

Timur Born wrote:

This is no bug, there just isn't much use for EXR DR with higher ISOs, especially considering the disadvantages of EXR DR vs. HR DR. So the X10 always uses HR DR when ISO allows it to do so.

I don't understand this. What do you mean there just isn't much use for EXR DR with higher ISOs? The whole point of EXR DR is that there is no requirement to boost ISO to expand the DR. HR generated DR is a software trick so to speak.

And what is the disadvantage of EXR DR vs HR DR? I'm not trying to mess with you here; I just don't get what you are saying.

HR DR 200 = internally 1 stop lower ISO underexposure + lifting of shadows + mids + further attenuation of highlights

HR DR 400 = internally 2 stops lower ISO underexposure + lifting of shadows + mid + further attenuation of highlights

Indeed, HR DR uses boosted ISO to achieve the expanded DR. But with EXR DR you don't need to do this.

Have a look at DxO's measurement of dynamic-range of the X10 sensor. The higher the ISO the lower the dynamic-range. Underexposing at lower ISO (amplification) + making use of the higher bit-rate (=dynamic range) of raw data makes sense, even if it doesn't have anything to do with the EXR sensor (unless it's combined with EXR SN in M mode).

I've lost you there. Can I check, do you mean that the X10 expressly prohibits EXR DR at higher ISOs?

There is no such thing as "hardware" vs "software" DR. Both make use of hardware underexposure and both apply curves. They just work differently: EXR DR exposes half the sensor shorter (and later) while HR DR exposes the whole sensor at lower amplification (ISO), then both apply curves to the raw data (or let the raw software apply them).

Maybe this is just terminology or perhaps you didn't understand what I meant. We could nit-pick about what is hardware & software within the system but that is pointless. The only point I was making is that the EXR DR is superior because the hardware supports the expansion of the DR without a need to boost ISO. The HR DR is inferior because it requires this boost and hence an increase in noise.

Barry Fitzgerald Forum Pro • Posts: 29,888
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

patchotoole wrote:

There is no such thing as "hardware" vs "software" DR. Both make use of hardware underexposure and both apply curves. They just work differently: EXR DR exposes half the sensor shorter (and later) while HR DR exposes the whole sensor at lower amplification (ISO), then both apply curves to the raw data (or let the raw software apply them).

Maybe this is just terminology or perhaps you didn't understand what I meant. We could nit-pick about what is hardware & software within the system but that is pointless. The only point I was making is that the EXR DR is superior because the hardware supports the expansion of the DR without a need to boost ISO. The HR DR is inferior because it requires this boost and hence an increase in noise.

That was my understanding also on EXR cameras.

Maybe the OP is confused on this one the EXR sensor has work liked this on previous models too.

VictorZ Contributing Member • Posts: 528
Great info. Many thanks.

Thanks on your continuing efforts to categorize and quantify the many modes and moods of the X10. It's a capable, but complicated little beast!

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Victor Z

Timur Born
OP Timur Born Veteran Member • Posts: 4,972
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

Some clarification on dynamic range and how dr "expansion" works on the X10 via the use of DR 200/400 modes (EXR DR vs. HR DR):

According to DxO lab the X10 offers a maximum dr of 11.29 EV at ISO 100 and drops down to 8.15 EV at ISO 1600. This means that the higher the ISO the lower the dynamic-range.

EXR DR = half the sensor is exposed shorter and later

EXR DR is only usable for M sized images at ISO 100 + DR 200 or ISO 100-320 + DR 400, aka ISO value lower than DR value! All other combinations of ISO + DR use the other DR method called "High Resolution" (HR) DR. Additionally the maximum exposure time is limited to 1/4 second, likely to avoid motion artifacts that can appear because of the time-difference between the sensor halves (1/4 also seems to be the about limit of the image-stabilization's effectiveness).

Theoretically using EXR DR 400 at ISO 100 should extend the dynamic-range of the X10 to around 13.3 EV. In practice I suspect that it is a bit lower than that, because at least in-camera clipped highlights are rather ungracefully blended instead of sophistical replaced with the other sensor half. Before the blending happens the underexposed half has its shadows and mids lifted to match the longer exposed one. And because half the sensor is underexposed and collect less photons you also lose some information in the deepest shadows, usually in form of some lost saturation.

Once you use ISO 400 (9.8 EV dynamic range according to DxO) the theoretical dynamic range in combination with EXR DR would be around 11.8 EV. But usually you are using shorter exposure times with higher ISO or shot a lower light scene, so half the sensor would be even more underexposed and thus the practical gain would be nowhere higher than the original 11.3 EV that ISO 100 give at DR 100. No more benefit + possible drawbacks = makes no more sense to use EXR DR at ISO 400 and higher.

Raw converter software is responsible for properly blending the two sensor halves and applying curves. This is what most software still fails at, including RAW Converter EX, Silkypix and Lightroom. Capture One currently seems to do it best, but lacks support for 12 mp DR 100 files in return. No software offers sophisticated control over the process.

High Resolution (HR) DR = full sensor exposing at lower amplification/ISO

HR DR has several benefits over EXR DR and doesn't need an EXR sensor at all (which is the reason why you find it in the X100, too). Internally it exposes the shot at 1 (DR 200) or 2 (DR 400) stops lower ISO to protect highlights and then applies curves to the higher bit-rate raw data before creating the final JPG. The total highlight protection of HR DR JPGs is about 2.5 EV, which likely is done by pulling highlights further down by 0.5 EV from the raw data that offers that much headroom.

Since the camera uses lower ISO internally it gains dynamic-range, as can be seen by the DxO measurements (lower ISO = higher dynamic-range). Again I doubt that 2 stops of dynamic-range are gained in practice, especially since each stop of ISO does not correspond to a full stop of dynamic-range.

The benefits of HR DR over EXR DR are:

  • Can be used with L sized images and can be combined with EXR SN pixel-binning with M sized images.

  • Exposes the whole sensor at the same time and thus avoids motion artifacts of EXR DR (which happen due to differently exposed halves with EXR DR).

  • Exposes the whole sensor for the full time and thus allows more photons to reach the AD converters. Interestingly HR DR still leads to loss of saturation in the lowest shadows just like EXR DR, so analog amplification seems to play a role, too.

  • Allows full maximum exposure time to be used (8 seconds at ISO 400) vs. 1/4 second maximum of EXR DR.

  • Is supported by all major raw converter software, even more so when pre-binned 10 mb raw files are used.

The reason why HR DR is only usable at ISO equal or higher to DR is simple. In order to use 1 or 2 stops lower ISO/amplification you need to start at higher ISO. The sensor simply is not capable of using lower ISO than 100, so you need ISO 200 for DR 200 (=ISO 100) and ISO 400 for DR 400 (=ISO 100).

And again, there is no "hardware" vs. "software". Both DR modes use hardware level exposure tricks (EXR uses shorter exposure time, HR uses lower ISO/amplification) and both modes seem to apply tone-curves afterwards. Only EXR DR is a "true" EXR sensor mode, but then HR DR allows to combine DR with EXR SN pixel-binning, too.

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PAUL TILL
PAUL TILL Veteran Member • Posts: 9,286
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

You need to shoot at 1/2 resolution to get hardware DR. Your so called HR DR is done via software.

You need two 6MP images binned together to get the DR advantage. You can't combine two 12MP images as it's not a 24MP sensor so any DR advantage is done via software, you may as well do it yourself in PP.

Paul.
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SHood Veteran Member • Posts: 5,780
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

I am surprised the 'RAW Only' file is twice the size of a RAW file when captured with a JPEG. I wonder is LR's default settings are based on it doing the binning or the camera doing it. This could explain some of the challenges working with RAW.

Any idea on which RAW file is easier to work with in LR?

Timur Born wrote:

  • Shooting "RAW + JPG" in M size at ISO at least double as high as DR leads to RAW file size being cut in half the size (does not happen with "RAW" only), from 18 mb to 10 mb. More important, this leads to SN pixel-binning happening inside the camera before RAW creation ! The difference between pixel-binning inside the camera vs. inside the raw software is that the automatically applied curves to shadows and mids differ and thus the ranges/behavior to changes in the raw software is different (same value have vastly different outcome).

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lensez Forum Member • Posts: 99
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

Timur Born wrote:

Here is a summary of my past findings on the X10. My current conclusion is that unfortunately there is no single best setting for all day shooting. It all depends on what you want, what you shoot and which of the following issues are relevant to your shooting style.

Timur - Your analytics are truly impressive. I haven't digested all of the detail on this thread yet so please forgive me if I missed the answer to this question: Have you investigated shooting like this? RAW with A-perture priority EV -2/3 or -1. Check the LCD for blown highlights or shadows and if necessary shoot again with different EV. Shoot at lSO 100 or as close to it as you can get. Then finally adjust the exposure and/or dynamic range in post processing. This seems to preserve highlights that would otherwise be blown and provide an all-around well exposed image. Your thoughts or experience on this would be welcomed.

Thanks
..
Gary K

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Luego
Luego Senior Member • Posts: 1,183
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

Timur Born wrote:

And again, there is no "hardware" vs. "software". Both DR modes use hardware level exposure tricks (EXR uses shorter exposure time, HR uses lower ISO/amplification) and both modes seem to apply tone-curves afterwards. Only EXR DR is a "true" EXR sensor mode, but then HR DR allows to combine DR with EXR SN pixel-binning, too.

Timur, I would like to add, that both EXR HR and SN modes do not protect highlights, since DR is limited to DR100% by internal firmware.

Luego

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Timur Born
OP Timur Born Veteran Member • Posts: 4,972
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

I did not write about EXR HR or DN camera modes here. I wrote about using DR 200/400 in all other modes and name the two different methods "EXR DR" for the method where half the sensor is underexposed and "HR DR" for the method where the whole sensor is underexposed ("High Resolution DR" is the name I got from Fuji support). HR DR can be combined with SN pixel-binning by using M size (which is a specialty of the EXR sensor, thus I wrote EXR SN, but did no mean the camera mode).

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Timur Born
OP Timur Born Veteran Member • Posts: 4,972
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

lensez wrote:

...Have you investigated shooting like this? RAW with A-perture priority EV -2/3 or -1. ... Then finally adjust the exposure and/or dynamic range in post processing. This seems to preserve highlights that would otherwise be blown and provide an all-around well exposed image. Your thoughts or experience on this would be welcomed.

Thanks for the feedback, Gary. What you describe is in essence what HR DR does, it underexposes by -1 EV (DR 200) or -2 EV (DR 400) and then adjusts exposure (lifts shadows and mids) while preserving the highlights. I did not care to compare that to manual raw processing results, but in another thread I demonstrated how manual processing would compare on a JPG (raw should be working better even). One of these is DR 400, one is underexposed and manually processed DR 100.

And here the original overexposed DR 100 shot:

What HR DR does is to save you the manual work and decision to underexpose (expose to the right, aka for the highlights) when taking the shot. You could just as well (or better) use a lower ISO yourself and then lift exposure manually in post-processing.

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lensez Forum Member • Posts: 99
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

Timur Born wrote:

lensez wrote:

...Have you investigated shooting like this? RAW with A-perture priority EV -2/3 or -1. ... Then finally adjust the exposure and/or dynamic range in post processing. This seems to preserve highlights that would otherwise be blown and provide an all-around well exposed image. Your thoughts or experience on this would be welcomed.

Thanks for the feedback, Gary. What you describe is in essence what HR DR does, it underexposes by -1 EV (DR 200) or -2 EV (DR 400) and then adjusts exposure (lifts shadows and mids) while preserving the highlights. I did not care to compare that to manual raw processing results, but in another thread I demonstrated how manual processing would compare on a JPG (raw should be working better even). One of these is DR 400, one is underexposed and manually processed DR 100.

Thanks Timur. I see. Looks like HR DR would save some steps. I'm (obviously) still learning how to best operate the X10. In the meantime I've been using the old standard methods from other cameras.

I really appreciate your sharing how to get the best out of our X10s.

And here the original overexposed DR 100 shot:

What HR DR does is to save you the manual work and decision to underexpose (expose to the right, aka for the highlights) when taking the shot. You could just as well (or better) use a lower ISO yourself and then lift exposure manually in post-processing.

..
Gary K

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Luego
Luego Senior Member • Posts: 1,183
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

Timur Born wrote:

I did not write about EXR HR or DN camera modes here. I wrote about using DR 200/400 in all other modes and name the two different methods "EXR DR" for the method where half the sensor is underexposed and "HR DR" for the method where the whole sensor is underexposed ("High Resolution DR" is the name I got from Fuji support). HR DR can be combined with SN pixel-binning by using M size (which is a specialty of the EXR sensor, thus I wrote EXR SN, but did no mean the camera mode).

Timur,

Perhaps, you want to use consistent terminology when you address functionality or processes.

Specify" Modes" meaning camera settings and "Methods" when writing about processes that provide different results (As you already mentioned above).

Otherwise the reader ends up with more confusion than intended.

Furthermore, try not to uses "best images" or "best results" unless you specify and stipulate the meaning of "best."

Also it would be helpful to break down the pros and cons for each function, rather than state the flaws only. So the reader can make a choice by selecting the "trade-offs."

Finally, are you aware of the canvas-like artifact in L size for JPEG images?

There were several recent posts that experienced this phenomenon in L size, but not M size images. Some X10 users thought is was caused by the in cam JPEG processor.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1012&message=40412624

Happy images

Luego

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Timur Born
OP Timur Born Veteran Member • Posts: 4,972
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

Luego wrote:

Perhaps, you want to use consistent terminology when you address functionality or processes.

Specify" Modes" meaning camera settings and "Methods" when writing about processes that provide different results (As you already mentioned above).

I just searched through my post in this thread and only used "modes" where PASMAUTOEXRADV modes where concerned. I only used "method" where DR methods where concerned. So what exactly do you mean?

Furthermore, try not to uses "best images" or "best results" unless you specify and stipulate the meaning of "best."

This thread starts by me stating that there is no single "best" image setting. I only use the word "best" once where I state that Capture One seems to do the blending and curve applying for EXR DR sensor halves best out of the raw converter software I tested. There also is a whole dedicated thread out there by me that describes raw converter behavior in more detail.

And for EXR vs. HR DR I already explicitly listed pros and cons:

The benefits of HR DR over EXR DR are:

Also it would be helpful to break down the pros and cons for each function, rather than state the flaws only. So the reader can make a choice by selecting the "trade-offs."

The pros and cons are subject to the individual shooter and his personal shooting style. Not to mention that I already did helluva work here and expect people to take that information and then try on their own if they find it relevant.

Finally, are you aware of the canvas-like artifact in L size for JPEG images?

Yes, I am aware of the posts about it, have not tried to reproduce it myself yet, but also have not consciously encountered it yet. Let me quote myself, though:

My current conclusion is that unfortunately there is no single best setting for all day shooting.

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Timur Born
OP Timur Born Veteran Member • Posts: 4,972
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

That "pros and cons" answer and quote was placed in the wrong line, but you get the point.

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Luego
Luego Senior Member • Posts: 1,183
Re: Summary of X10's functions and flaws

Timur Born wrote:

Luego wrote:

Perhaps, you want to use consistent terminology when you address functionality or processes.

Specify" Modes" meaning camera settings and "Methods" when writing about processes that provide different results (As you already mentioned above).

I just searched through my post in this thread and only used "modes" where PASMAUTOEXRADV modes where concerned. I only used "method" where DR methods where concerned. So what exactly do you mean?

Furthermore, try not to uses "best images" or "best results" unless you specify and stipulate the meaning of "best."

This thread starts by me stating that there is no single "best" image setting. I only use the word "best" once where I state that Capture One seems to do the blending and curve applying for EXR DR sensor halves best out of the raw converter software I tested. There also is a whole dedicated thread out there by me that describes raw converter behavior in more detail.

And for EXR vs. HR DR I already explicitly listed pros and cons:

The benefits of HR DR over EXR DR are:

Also it would be helpful to break down the pros and cons for each function, rather than state the flaws only. So the reader can make a choice by selecting the "trade-offs."

The pros and cons are subject to the individual shooter and his personal shooting style. Not to mention that I already did helluva work here and expect people to take that information and then try on their own if they find it relevant.

Finally, are you aware of the canvas-like artifact in L size for JPEG images?

Yes, I am aware of the posts about it, have not tried to reproduce it myself yet, but also have not consciously encountered it yet. Let me quote myself, though:

My current conclusion is that unfortunately there is no single best setting for all day shooting.

Timur, don't get me me wrong I had no intention to "question your wisdom,"
and you know how much I appreciate your "helluva" effort.

I just expressed my humble observation.

However, I'm pleased to see your summary article; you posted today.
This will hopefully give X10 users a "leg up."

It's not easy to please everybody all the time...;-)

Luego

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